The influential management theorist Peter F. Drucker died on November 11th. He was 95. Drucker was the Marie Rankin Clarke Professor of Social Sciences and Management at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) from 1971 to 2003 where he continued to write and consult up to the time of his death. His career as a writer, consultant and teacher spanned nearly 75 years, addressing the major themes in modern thinking on management from marketing to organization.
“What distinguishes Peter Drucker from many other thought leaders in my mind is that he cared not just about how business manages its resources, but also how public and private organizations operate morally and ethically within society,” said Cornelis de Kluyver, dean of the Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. “He respected the values of education, personal responsibility and business’ accountability to society. His true legacy is his insistence on this value system, and its effect on business, society, and individual lives.”
Born November 19, 1909, in Vienna, Drucker was educated in Austria and England and earned a doctorate from Frankfurt University in 1931. He became a financial reporter for Frankfurter General Anzeiger in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929, which allowed him to immerse himself in the study of international law, history and finance.
Drucker moved to London in 1933 to escape Hitler’s Germany and took a job as a securities analyst for an insurance firm. Four years later he married Doris Schmitz and the couple departed for the United States.
In 1939, Drucker landed a part-time teaching position at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. He joined the faculty of Bennington College in Vermont in 1942 and the next year put his academic career on hold to spend two years studying the management structure of General Motors. This experience led to his book “Concept of the Corporation,” an immediate bestseller in the United States and Japan, which validated the notion that great companies could stand among humankind’s noblest inventions.
From 1950 to 1971, Drucker was a professor of management at the Graduate Business School of New York University. Drucker came to California in 1971, where he was instrumental in the development of one of the country’s first executive MBA programs for working professionals at Claremont. He taught his last class at the school in the spring of 2002. His courses consistently attracted the largest number of students of any class offered by the university.
Drucker’s work had a major influence on modern organizations and their management over the past 60 years. Valued for keen insight and the ability to convey his ideas in popular language, Drucker often set the agenda in management thinking. Central to his philosophy is the view that people are an organization’s most valuable resource, and that a manager’s job is to prepare and free people to perform.
Drucker’s ideas have been disseminated in his 39 books, which have been translated into more than 30 languages. His works range from 1939’s “The End of the Economic Man” to “Managing in the Next Society” and “A Functioning Society,” both published in 2002, and “The Daily Drucker,” released in 2004. His last book coauthored with Joseph A. Maciariello, "The Effective Executive In Action" will be published by Harper Collins in January of 2006.
A sought-after consultant, Drucker specialized in strategy and policy for both businesses and not-for-profit organizations. He worked with many of the world’s largest corporations, with small and entrepreneurial companies, with nonprofits and with agencies of the United States government, as well as the governments of Canada and Japan.
In recent years, Drucker focused much of his time on working with nonprofit organizations, often pro bono. The Salvation Army, C.A.R.E., the American Red Cross, the Navajo Indian Tribal Council, the American Heart Association, and his local Episcopal church in La Verne, California, all benefited from his counsel.
Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in July 2002 by President George W. Bush in recognition for his work in the field of management. He received honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.
Source: Claremont Graduate University